A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Gargoyles & The Winged Victory
Monday, December 28, 2009

Just like anybody else I dream. And just like everybody else when I wake up in the morning most of those vivid dreams have faded and only bits and pieces of them remain. I am unlike Graham Greene who kept a notebook and pen handy by his bedside table. During the night it would seem that he could will himself awake during interesting dreams and he would jot down the jist of them before memory failed.

This morning I woke up, and just for once I could remember the dream. The dream, which was about Paris may have come to my sleeping imagination because I am reading a Barbara Cleverly Commander Joe Sandilands novel, Foly Du Jour which is set in Paris in 1927. The dream involved a faded, blurry Winged Victory and a Notre Dame gargoyle. I went to my files and looked around. I wasn't too surprised what I found in one six-frame negative. Three of the the frames were of the Winged Victory at the Louvre and the other three were the gargoyles on the roof of Notre Dame. While the pictures are not absolutely sharp (I used Kodak Infrared film) the are not blurred at all. But the dream indeed was accurate as to the relationship between them.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is the name given in English to a statue of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory), found on the island of Samothrace (Greek Samothraki) in 1863 by the French archaeologist Charles Champoiseau. It is now in the Louvre, Paris. In Greek it is called the Niki tis Samothrakis (Νίκη της Σαμοθράκης) and in French La Victoire de Samothrace). There are numerous copies around the world. The Victory is considered one of the great surviving masterpieces of Greek sculpture, even though it is missing its head and arms. It is by an unknown artist and is thought to date from about 190 BC (though some scholars date it as early as 250 BC or as late as 180 BC). A partial inscription on the base of the statue includes the word "Rhodhios" (Rhodes), indicating that the statue was commissioned to celebrate a naval victory by Rhodes, at that time the most powerful maritime state in the Aegean. The Samothrace Archaeological Museum, however, says that the statue was an offering donated by the Macedonian general Demetrius I Poliorcetes after his naval victory at Cyprus. This would date the statue to 288 BC at the latest.

The statue originally stood on the prow of a stone ship, probably as part of an outdoor altar, and was intended to represent the goddess as she descended from the skies to bring victory to the fleet. Before losing her arms she had been blowing a victory paean on a trumpet. In 1950 one of the statue's hands was found on Samothrace and is now in a glass case in the Louvre next to the podium on which the statue stands. The statue shows a mastery of form and movement which has impressed critics and artists since its discovery. The Victory is one of the Louvre's great treasures, and it is displayed in the most dramatic fashion, at the head of the sweeping Daru Staircase. The loss of the head and arms, while regrettable in a sense, is held by many to enhance the statue's depiction of the supernatural.


Previous Posts
Writers & Company, Eleanor Wachtel & Novelizing My...

Satin Sheets & Flying Down To Rio

A Cleverly Christmas Day

Chicken A La Barbara & Toby Hams It Up

Jo-Ann & A Hot Summer's Day In December

The Christmas Gift - The Record


Pancho Does Not Smile For Christmas

Rebecca In Red - Revisited

Twitterizing Time

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010